The communication skill of your chat support agents are as important as the communication skills of the sales representatives in your brick and mortar store. There are two key aspects that mark the success of your live chat support; one is your choice of the live chat software and secondly the efficiency of the live chat agents in handling the chats. Our presumption here is that you have already taken care of the first part, which is the selection of the right live chat support software so let us look at the second factor, which is the efficiency of the live chat agents in handling the chats.
Chat Efficiency and Communication Skills
If you have been closely observing the live chats or reading the emerging patterns in live chat, you will easily notice that there is a direct link between the communication skills of the chat agents and the chat efficiency. This should not be a complex correlation to understand. If your chat agents possess good communication skills they will be able to understand the customers’ issues better and will be able to communicate the solutions correctly in the easiest and the quickest way possible. As the chat, agents continue to polish up their communication skills the overall quality of the live chat service will be boosted along with the overall efficiency of the chat service.
Here are top ten factors that will help your chat agents polish up their communication skills.
1. Good communication skills start with good listening skills
Very often good communication skill is misunderstood for talking or communicating frequently. The importance of listening is often forgotten here. If you want to improve your communication skills, you should first learn to listen well. Only when you understand the questions, concerns and the issues of the customers you will be able to give them the right resolutions. If you do not have listening ears and if you are impatient to throw your solutions at them even before they have stated fully their problems, you are then making a huge mistake. Your solutions will help your customers only when they are addressing their issues completely. If you approach their issues with a partial understanding of the issues, then your solutions could be either irrelevant or would only offer partial solutions. The first commandment of good communication skills is, ‘Learn to listen.’
2. Communicate to be understood
Are you amused with this second commandment? Very often, we throw statements on the chat visitors to show off. Rather than making things simple and easy for the customers to understand, we try to complicate things by trying to show them how much we know or that we know better than they do. If this is your intention while communicating or chatting then you are only making things worse. Your customers will not understand what you are talking about. Rather than resolving their issues, you will only be adding fuel to the fire and increase their confusions.
3. Follow the ‘KISS’ principle
It is highly recommended that you follow the ‘KISS’ principle. KISS stand for ‘Keep It Short and Simple. Yes, keep your sentences short and simple. Constructing long sentences have a number of disadvantages, which could be listed as follows:
– You will keep the visitor waiting for a long time before you complete the sentence and send it to them.
– The likelihood of making grammatical mistakes in longer sentences is high.
– The likelihood of making typographical mistakes in longer sentences is high as you are under the pressure of sending your response quickly to the visitor.
– The likelihood of misunderstanding long, windy sentences is also high as people read what they want to read and not what is actually there. This could result in more problems than there are already. By keeping your sentences short, you will minimize the risk of being misunderstood.
– Reading a long passage in the small chat window is very difficult. Shorter sentences are easier to read and therefore they ensure an optimum chatting experience.
4. Choose vocabulary from the visitor’s message
This factor will make the visitor feel immediately comfortable. Each one, including you and me will have our own set of vocabulary that we use when we are communicating with people. This preferred vocabulary is built by the individuals over a period of time. Linguists list a number of factors why we tend to use certain words more in our communications than others. Our concern here is not of a linguistic nature, but how to improve our communications so that our visitors will feel comfortable and confident when they interact with us through chat.
When you are chatting with the visitor, try to pick words from the questions asked by the visitors. This will make them feel unconsciously that you are like them and this will give them a good feel when they are chatting with them. This in turn will improve the communications and the level of trust.
5. Do not bite more than what you can chew
Do not handle way too many chats at the same time. Using the modern chat support software, it is possible to handle multiple chats simultaneously. Normally companies like their chat agents to handle multiple chats at the same time. This is expected to increase the productivity of the chat agents. However, you cannot compromise on the quality of the chat for the want of productivity. It is therefore important to balance your act. Experienced chat agents will be able to handle more number of chats when compared to the less experienced ones. Your chat agents should be able to assess their own limitations. If you stretch your limit too far and try to handle more chats than you could possibly handle thinking that your overall productivity will increase then you could be wrong. You will make all the visitors wait for long durations and will not provide solution to anyone. In other words, the overall time that you take per visitor will also increase. Not only that as you will be taking longer than you should between responses, you will frustrate the visitors. All these will have a very negative impact on your efficiency as a chat support agent.
6. Effective use of canned response
We have discussed at great lengths about canned responses, how to set it up and how to use it correctly. When we are talking of improving your communication skills as part of enhancing your overall chat efficiency, we cannot avoid talking about the canned responses. In the hands of seasoned chat support agent canned responses could work wonders. At the same time if not handled correctly, it could mess up the entire chat. If you follow the first commandment on listening carefully, you will not make the mistake of sending out the wrong canned responses or canned responses that only give a partial answer to the visitor’s questions.
7. Read chat history
It is not uncommon for the visitors to come for chat in repeated instances. If you can save the visitor the trouble of having to repeat his or her problem each time they come for chat, they will be happy. It will take you just a minute to review the overall history of chats with the same visitor. This will certainly speed up the process and help the visitors get faster solutions. Effective communication is nothing but offering the best solution possible in the shortest time possible using the minimal resources possible. Therefore, take advantage of the chat history feature in your chat software and get a better understanding about the visitors that you are chatting with. You will understand the importance of reviewing the chat history of a repeat visitor if only you could place yourself in the shoes of the visitor. Imagine having to type out a long story explaining your issues to the chat agent only to be told that your issue has been registered and escalated to the relevant department. You wait for the solutions to be presented to you, but without any use. You again contact the live chat support hoping to get some solution, at least this time. But the second time, the chat is handled by someone new and this agent asks for all the details forcing you to start all over. If you are made to go through this cycle several times in a matter of few days then what will be your disposition? You will be at the height of frustration. This will be a state of your visitor too. You could ease the pain of the visitor to a certain extent by giving him or her the notion that you are aware of the issue that they are facing. For the visitor, it is not just the chat agent who knows about their issue, but the brand or the company that they represent. This gives the visitor a tremendous confidence boost. Moreover, you will save a lot of time as the visitor need not take your time typing long litanies of issues which they have anyway shared in the past already.
8. Attempt to resolve one issue at a time
Often visitors that come for chat come with a long list of issues to be rectified. If they have just a single issue to be addressed, then you might as well focus on that and resolve it. On the other hand, if the visitor comes with a huge list of issues to be resolved then you should take a highly disciplined approach to resolving the visitor’s concerns. If you possess adequate product knowledge, you will be able to see whether all the concerns are connected with a single issue, by resolving that single key issue all the other minor concerns will resolve by itself. In such cases, identify the key problem and troubleshoot the issue along with the visitor. If all the issues are of independent nature, then attend to them one at a time. In this case, prioritize the issues and decide whether you will be able to give the visitor on the spot solution or whether you need to give them a timeframe for the resolutions. Make sure that you convey to the visitor clearly the timeline or the turnaround time for the resolutions so that they are mentally prepared. Only when you do not give them the expected turnaround time or delay them beyond the expected turnaround time, they will get upset.
9. Never lose your professional touch
No matter what state of mind the visitors are in, make certain that you are professional in all your communications. Every statement that you send out should be constructed with a professional touch. No spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in your chats. No short forms and abbreviations too. Type clear, simple, short messages without errors. Professionalism is never out of place in live chats. While we are trying to focus on effective communication and efficient chats, we should also at the same time ensure that the chats are also handled in a very diplomatic way. The bottom line is that you represent the brand or the company that which you are supporting. Whatever you say or do will have a direct impact on the brand you represent.
10. Never lose your friendly touch too
While it is essential that you should not lose your professional touch, you should also not lose the friendly touch too in your chats. No visitor will be happy with the machine like responses just because they are very professional. You need to spice up your chat with a certain amount of friendly touch. If the friendly touch is missing all together, then your customers will not be feeling comfortable to interact with you even if you are offering them the right solutions. Therefore, make certain to maintain a friendly note in your chat communications.
The above ten commandments tries to take the bigger picture into account while trying to improve the chat communications. By consistently adhering to the above factors, you will be able to take your chat communications to a whole new level. Try to understand the urgency of the customers or the visitors that come to chat with you. Their urgency is real and they are desperate to get their issues resolved. Continually work on improving your product knowledge and this will help you improve the effectiveness of your communications. Take time to review the past chat transcripts. This will prove to be such an excellent resource. Each transcript will contain an issue and the possible solution. Reviewing the past transcripts you will be able to understand the concerns of the future visitors and you will be in a better position to assess what will work and what will not. Once you know this, your chat efficiency will be doubled. Instead of taking the patients through a long list of trial and error episodes of troubleshooting, you will be able to give quick solutions when you review the past transcripts handled by the other agents too. You could even consider creating a solution back, which you could use as a ready reckoner. There is nothing to stop you from taking these efforts. As long as you have the desire to serve your customers fast and to offer the best solutions to them, you will be able spot the right tools and strategies. Remember that your skills are honed continuously. Therefore, there is no room for complacency, no matter what your experience level is, there is always something you could improve your communication skills from your current level to the next.
Besides following the above ten commandments of communication skills for handling live chat service, you should also have in place a feedback mechanism whereby you are continually evaluating your chat performance. You need not have to wait for a team leader or your manager to point out your mistakes. You will be able to spot your own mistakes, which you could easily avoid in your next chat. If there is a reason why you are unable to show improvement in the quality of your chats could be that you are not taking time to review your own chats after the visitor has left. If you take the time to review the chats you will be able to come up with better responses the next time. Moreover, you will also be able to identify the nature of the responses that work the best for a given situation. When you have this information at hand, you will certainly become adept with your chat communications. The whole idea why you should improve your communication skills as a chat agent is to keep your customers happy. More so, your role as a chat agent is to give the best chatting experience possible to your visitors. If you are not performing well then you could be sending your organizations advertising funds to the drains by being a bad advertisement to visitors who come to your website after being marketed through expensive marketing campaigns of your brand.